Al Mefer’s alien landscapes

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Al Mefer has an enviable title: photographer and neuroscientist. Mefer is based in Alicante, a Spanish port city located between Valencia and Murcia. He is pursuing a PhD in neuroscience at the local university, balancing his scientific research interests with a photographic practice. In his own words in his website bio, Mefer explains that his artistic interests allow him to explore ideas around the “phenomenology of reality conceptualized through the experience of the dissimilar.” Phenomenology, the philosophy of the experience of the world thorough individual consciousness, does seem like an appropriate area of interest for a neuroscientist.

The photographer is preoccupied with the landscape, both ‘natural’ and urban. He has produced numerous series of works that take advantage of Alicante’s surrounding environment. His images are characteristic in their post-processing aesthetic. Mefer turns up pink and purple hues, contrasting them with intense blues, to offset the familiarity of his landscapes. The result is beautiful, ethereal, but also unsettling. There is a sense of distance in the photographer’s work. It feels like we are viewing these locations from a removed standpoint, we do not belong here. I am reminded of Andrei Tarkovsy’s film Solaris and the scenes of its mysterious ocean planet.

A Mefer’s photographic series include The Human–Alien Barrier, monolithic structures that bring to mind state borders. Deserts of the Future is a poignant series that captures the looming desertification of the Alicante region — the entire area is at risk due to damaging agricultural methods, climate change, and high-intensity development. Alien Architecture focuses in on the futuristic structures of Benidorm, a resort town that saw the rapid constructions of high-rise resorts and hotels in the 70s and 80s. It still boasts disproportionately high numbers of skyscrapers, behind only London and Milan in Europe. All three series share aesthetics, but also present three very different locations and stories. I recommend exploring more of Al Mafer’s series here.